Thursday, December 27, 2012
The Tree of Life
Rev. 2:7 Whoever has ears, let them hear what the Spirit says to the churches. To those who are victorious, I will give the right to eat from the tree of life, which is in the paradise of God.
In the opening book of the Bible we learn about the beautiful garden -- Paradise -- in which Adam and Eve have the privilege of living. Their every need is provided and yet there is a tree in the center of the garden from which they are not to eat. This is the tree of the knowledge of good and evil. At the same time there exists in the garden the tree of life. Once they have eaten the fruit from the forbidden tree God sends them out of the garden and away from the tree of life. Sinful humanity must not eat from this tree and they are banned from its very presence.
Here in the final book of the Bible the tree appears again. The promise of the tree of life is reaffirmed for the faithful followers of Jesus Christ for God has been caring for the tree all along. The tree is no longer in a garden, but is in God's paradise. This is a view of what is to come for God himself will be among his people and he WILL be our paradise. Therefore the tree of eternal life will be found in him. All of this is possible because of the incarnation of Jesus Christ. That's why the writer encourages us to be victorious -- to hang in there and be faithful to the very end for the reward is greater than anything that any of us could ever imagine. The tree of life is now found in God and God is our paradise.
The world promises all kinds of places where we can experience paradise. It may be at a beach in the Caribbean, in the heartland of Armenia (where they claim the original Eden existed), or at a man-made indoor water park in the midst of a freezing cold winter, but none of these have anything to offer in comparison to God's paradise. This letter was written to the church in Ephesus. They had been faithful for so long and in so many ways but now their love for God had grown cold. They had forgotten what it was that had drawn them to Christ in the first place. They were just "doing" church and being good people but somehow they were no longer passionately in love with Christ. This was a reminder of what it was all about.
To be victorious spiritually means that we learn how to camp out in the presence of Jesus Christ. This is simply a foretaste of what is to come. What is to come is beyond anything that we could ever imagine. We will have the joy of being in God. There in the center of his holy presence we will discover the tree of life -- of eternal life. When we are connected to God through Christ in the power of the Holy Spirit we are connected to eternity.
I'm not sure what paradise we may be searching for today but maybe it's time that we discover true paradise which is found in our relationship with God. When we find this place we will discover that we can enjoy a foretaste of that paradise on a daily basis in our personal walk with him, enjoying his fruits.
Lord, please help me, through your power to be a faithful and victorious follower. Amen.